Tackling Social and Economic Sustainability
Dr. Pirjo Honkanen is Research Director for Marketing and Consumer Research at Nofima, a large food research institute in Norway that covers everything from breeding to consumers. With a PhD in consumer research, Pirjo has delved into consumer perceptions of organic seafood and the use of new technologies. “Assessing consumer perceptions of new feed and new technologies through SUREAQUA will be very interesting,” she says.
“Our goal is primarily to provide science-based knowledge on these social and economic issues."
As Pirjo notes, there are many issues in aquatic production related to feed, and sustainable food production that need to be investigated and assessed, such as determining consumer reactions to genetically modified feed in the salmon industry. There are also many environmental and social risks related to aquatic production, and Pirjo is very interested in developing tools for assessing the risks and benefits through SUREAQUA. “We have a very strong economics team in SUREAQUA,” she observes. “Our goal is primarily to provide science-based knowledge on these social and economic issues. SUREAQUA will contribute to solving some of both the environmental and societal challenges in aquatic production.” For example, Frank Asche and his group at the University of Stavanger will be conducting economic assessments of new production chains, while others will consider the potential for job creation and working conditions.
“I also think SUREAQUA’s focus on the whole production circle including waste and by-products and what to do with them is very important,” comments Pirjo. “This is something that should really be taken into account.” The technological and environmental aspects of expanding the use of waste and by-products, and in what manner will be addressed under the first two themes
, while issues related to consumer perceptions of using a variety of parts in ingredients in food or feed will be tackled under this third theme.
“SUREAQUA’s focus on the whole production circle including waste and by-products and what to do with them is very important.”
It will be important for industry to understand what consumers will accept when looking at new approaches to food production. As Pirjo explains, “Consumers can accept that you use genetically modified yeast to brew a beer for example, as it is so far from one’s actual food. But once you start genetically modifying beef or fish, that’s a big problem to consumers.” In the world of using novel feed ingredients for aquaculture, there is also the question of cultural preferences, such as how consumers would react to eating fish fed with insects. She goes on to emphasise that, “The connection with industry partners in SUREAQUA makes the Centre more relevant and we will get more impact out of the Centre. I think that is also very important.”
Pirjo has a PhD in consumer research from the University of Tromsø, and is the Research Director for Marketing and Consumer Research at Nofima. She has worked extensively on consumer perceptions of sustainability related to sustainable, environmentally friendly and ethical foods. Pirjo will be coordinating SUREAQUA’s theme on Social and Economic Sustainability.
Image acknowledgements: Frank Gregersen